Day 338

Four Keys to Overcoming Fear

Wisdom Psalm 138:1-8
New Testament 1 John 4:7-21
Old Testament Daniel 11:2-35


Alex Buchanan was well known as a ‘pastor to the pastors’. He was profoundly deaf in one ear, with only 5% hearing in the other, and one side of his face was paralysed after he suffered nerve damage during major surgery. I remember hearing him speak about God’s love and he kept repeating the words, ‘God loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.’

After he finished his talk he came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe that God approves of you?’ I said, ‘Actually, I really struggle with that because I know things about myself that mean I find it difficult to believe that God approves of me.’ He replied, ‘We all struggle with that. God wants you to know that he approves of you. He wants you to know he loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.’

If I were to summarise what I thought the Bible was all about in one word – apart from the word ‘Jesus’ – I would choose the word ‘love’. Twice in today's New Testament passage John writes, ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8,16). The word ‘love’ is used widely in our society. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, ‘Love is God’. In other words, it is God who defines what love is rather than the other way around. God is love.

This is the message you need to understand yourself, meditate on constantly and speak about to the world: ‘God is love’.

Here is the answer to the greatest longing of the world today. People are looking for love. Their hearts are searching. When you really know God’s love for you, your life is transformed. As we will see in the New Testament passage for today, God’s love is at the heart of each of the four keys to overcoming unhealthy fear in your life: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’ (v.18).


Psalm 138:1-8

Psalm 138

Of David.

  1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
   before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
  2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
   and will praise your name
   for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
  for you have so exalted your solemn decree
   that it surpasses your fame.
  3 When I called, you answered me;
   you greatly emboldened me.

  4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,
   when they hear what you have decreed.
  5 May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
   for the glory of the Lord is great.

  6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
   though lofty, he sees them from afar.
  7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life.
  You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
   with your right hand you save me.
  8 The Lord will vindicate me;
   your love, Lord, endures forever —
   do not abandon the works of your hands.


Thank God for his love

‘Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!”’, writes the psalmist, ‘Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness’ (vv.1–2, MSG).

God is loving and faithful in answering our prayers: ‘When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.’ (v.3).

In this life we may face ‘troubles’ (v.7b) – sickness, opposition, temptation, exhaustion, trials and attacks. God, in his love and faithfulness, preserves us. ‘Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life’ (v.7a).

I think verse 8 is one of the most encouraging verses in the entire Bible: ‘The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me’ (v.8a). God, in his love and faithfulness, has a purpose for your life and he will fulfil that purpose.

Human love can be fleeting, but ‘your love, O Lord, endures for ever’ (v.8b). As God’s love and faithfulness go hand in hand, so should our love for one another – in marriage, and in all our other relationships.


Lord, thank you so much for your amazing love and faithfulness towards me. Thank you that you promise to fulfil your purpose for me. Help me to live a life of love and faithfulness.
New Testament

1 John 4:7-21

God’s Love and Ours

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.


Live in the love of God

‘God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us’ (v.17, MSG).

The words ‘love’, ‘loves’ and ‘loved’ appear twenty-seven times in this short passage. Here is the heart of the New Testament. Here is the heart of the Bible. Here is God’s heart.

Love is the antidote to fear: ‘Perfect love drives out fear’ (v.18). Or, ‘perfect love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror’ (v.18, AMP). Love is the opposite of fear. They are like oil and water. Love is something everyone wants. Fear is something everyone wants to get rid of. We see in this passage four keys to overcome unhealthy fear in your life.

  1. Understand God’s Love

    ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins... so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment... there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love’ (vv.10,17–18).

    Unhealthy fear entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. They hid from God. When God asked, ‘Where are you?’ Adam replied, ‘I was afraid… so I hid’ (Genesis 3:10). Adam was afraid that God would punish him.

    The deepest root of fear is condemnation – the feeling that God is cross with you. But God ‘sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ (1 John 4:10). Jesus took your condemnation. God wants you to have confidence before him.

  2. Experience God’s Love

    ‘We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit... we know and rely on the love God has for us’ (vv.13,16).

    You truly start living when you know you are unconditionally loved by God. The Holy Spirit gives us the experience of God’s love for us. When Pippa was a little girl, whenever she was frightened, her father would pick her up in his arms and sing, ‘Daddy’s got you now’. This is the work of the Holy Spirit – God picks us up in his arms and reassures us of his love for us.

  3. Believe God’s Love

    ‘We know and rely on the love God has for us’ (v.16). The Greek word used for ‘rely’ is the same word as for believe. Even when we know and have experienced God’s love, we need to keep on believing.

    ‘Object permanence’ is an expression used by psychologists of a child’s ability to understand that objects still exist even if they are no longer visible.

    Up to about four months old, babies don’t have the capacity to believe something exists if they can’t see it. If you hide a toy it no longer exists as far as they are concerned. They reach a stage where if you hide a toy, they will keep on looking for it. They realise that objects exist even when you don’t see them.

    This is a sign of Christian maturity: when we continue to believe in God’s love even when we don’t see it or feel it. We remember and recall. As we believe in the sun even when it is not shining, we continue to believe in God’s love even in times of darkness when we don’t feel his love.

  4. Complete God’s Love

    ‘No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us’ (v.12). ‘Perfect love drives out all fear’ (v.18).

    The more you love him and demonstrate that reality by loving one another – the less you are prey to fear. Develop a culture of love – giving and receiving love. This is the opposite of competition and gossip. The more love you give to others – the more fear disappears.


Lord, thank you that you love me unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually. Thank you that perfect love drives out all fear.
Old Testament

Daniel 11:2-35

The Kings of the South and the North

2 “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. 4 After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

5 “The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. 6 After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.

7 “Someone from within her family will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. 8 He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. 9 Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. 10 His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.

11 “Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. 12 When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. 13 For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.

14 “In those times many will rise against the king of the South. Those who are violent among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. 15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. 16 The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it. 17 He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. 18 Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back on him. 19 After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.

20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendour. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.

21 “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honour of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. 22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. 23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.

25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.

29 “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favour to those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. 35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.


Stand firm in the love of God

People who know their God (v.32) are people of love. Love is not weak. The people who really know God resist evil leaders. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who knew God and firmly resisted Adolf Hitler while praying, ‘Give me such love for God and men, as will blot out all hatred and bitterness.’ Over the centuries many people who have known their God have stood firm and resisted evil.

Once again, this prophecy (vv.2–35) has different levels of fulfilment. The immediate historical fulfilment concerns the various kings and rulers who reigned between 530–150 BC, many of whom were evil and ungodly in their actions.

However, there is also a long-term fulfilment. As we saw yesterday, Jesus referred to the abomination that causes destruction (9:27; 11:31; Matthew 24:15). He was probably referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which was a foreshadowing of the end times.

In the midst of all this evil ‘the people who know their God will firmly resist \[the evil one\]’ (Daniel 11:32b). As the RSV puts it, they will ‘stand firm and take action’. Or as The Message puts it, ‘those who stay courageously loyal to their God will take a strong stand’ (v.32b). It goes on, ‘those who keep their heads on straight will teach the crowds right from wrong by their example... The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true’ (vv.33,35, MSG).

Today, thank God for his love, live in the love of God, overcome your fears, stand firm and resist evil.


Lord, help us to be a people of love who know their God and stand firm, overcome our fears, resist evil and take action.

Pippa adds

1 John 4:18 says, ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear...’

I have found comfort in this verse thousands of times.

Verse of the Day

Psalm 138:8

‘The Lord will fulfil his purpose for \[you\].’



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Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (Pocket Books, 1997), p.140.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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